The Museum is working on a project which will tell a unique story about our local history in the 20th century, enabling us to increase our focus on the rural heritage of the last 100 years.
The building at the heart of the project is a house on one of the Land Settlement Association’s (LSA) smallholding plots at Sidlesham, south of Chichester, West Sussex. It was during discussions with Dr Bill Martin, who created a heritage trail around Sidlesham, that we heard of the plan to demolish the LSA manager’s house.
In an incredible coincidence, the house previously belonged to a former, longstanding Museum volunteer, Godfrey Shirt, and his family. Negotiations for the building’s rescue and removal for re-erection at the Museum proved fruitful, and dismantling began in September, thanks to the generosity of the building’s owners, Philip and Caroline Kemp.
Museum staff and volunteers, led by Curator Julian Bell, completed the dismantling of the house this week. Julian, plus a team of five volunteers, removed the final section of internal kitchen wall in late November and made good the site ready for hauliers to remove the dismantled house materials to the Museum in early December.
The removal of the last brick was the source of celebration, taking place exactly three months after the start of the dismantling project. LSA volunteer Norman Dixon (pictured) removed the last brick; Norman still lives in a Sidlesham LSA house, which he and his family moved into in 1939. For further information about this dismantling project see our earlier blog article.
About the Land Settlement Association
The Land Settlement Association (LSA) was a Government-supported initiative of 1934, the height of the depression, established to provide rural smallholdings in England and Wales for the unemployed from industrialised cities.
The programmes were for 5-10-acre smallholdings throughout England and Wales for horticulture and livestock, particularly pigs. By 1938 it had 25 estates, including the largest of them all, at Sidlesham, which had 120 plots.
The families which moved to Sidlesham were predominantly those of unemployed shipbuilders and miners from Durham and other areas in north east England. The smallholdings were run as co-operatives with produce sold through the LSA; the initiative finally closed in 1983.
Today some of the smallholdings still operate as independent growers businesses but most of the buildings have been converted into private dwellings.